Plenty Of Blame To Go Around

Don't wait for someone else to fix it.

The New York Times and The Atlantic each laid out some harsh medicine on what I think are related topics. The short version of the NYT piece is that economic theory and by extension economists, are responsible for the worsening wealth gap while The Atlantic believes that the millennial generation is doomed because the Great Financial Crisis resulted in the group delaying the type of wealth accumulation that hopefully starts in your late 20's-early 30's and the next recession will be a knockout punch in this regard.

The articles are interesting but I don't see where it makes too much time trying to refute the premises because regardless of whether they are right or wrong, no one's situation would change.

I do refute the victim mentally, the fatalistic attitude toward these negative outcomes, and they are negative. The expression no one will care more about your <fill in whatever outcome you want> more than you has evolved into one of the building blocks of my personal philosophy.

The basics are simple to understand because we learn them as kids. Maybe they aren't easy to implement, but you do understand. In this context I talk about living below your means and saving money. In the context of health, I talk about cutting sugar consumption and exercising. An idea we should verbalize, although it has always been implied, is working hard for or desired outcomes.

I have never been a fan of comparisons to others for ego's sake but we can learn from what other people do. In my field there are plenty of people who are clearly more successful than me. This very likely pertains to you in your field. Someone who is more successful, whether it's work or some aspect of personal life, are either smarter, luckier, work harder or some combination of the three.

What are your goals that you're working toward, what are hot buttons that you want to avoid, things that you want to do? For me, I care a lot about my day job and my volunteer gig, my hot buttons involve being overly dependent on another person or process for anything and I want to be physically capable of doing what I do now (fight wildfires, hike, travel and so on) for a very long time. If you thought about it in these terms then maybe some of your priorities would overlap some of mine?

They all require some amount of time and effort to achieve the outcomes desired. Avoiding the outcomes described by the NYT and Atlantic, being victims of inequality and/or having come of age at a difficult time requires people solving or preventing their own problems. I repeat the recipe that makes the most sense for me, living below my means and saving money, and while that seems universal, maybe it's not but that does not change the dynamic that no one will care more about your outcome than you.

After I started writing this post, I stumbled across an article from Teresa Ghilarducci titled Why Do We Feel Shame About Retirement Savings? Included in that article are "why does the weight of the retirement crisis fall on each of us personally" and a quote from Helane Olen who said “this is not a personal problem—this is a political problem.”

Feeling shame is certainly unproductive and I can buy into the idea that some portion of our undersaved state is a byproduct of political dysfunction but if the weight of the retirement crisis doesn't fall to us individually, then who does it fall to exactly? It reminds me of this bit from SNL during the crisis;

You can either hope that they fix it but that is a victim mentality. It circles back to the premise that no one will care more about your retirement than you. It is up to you to solve or prevent your own problems. If they actually do manage to fix it, you'll be that much better off.

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